Hendricks lifts Oilers over rookie-laden Jets 3-2 in pre-season action

EDMONTON — On paper it looked like no contest, but the rookie-laden Winnipeg Jets gave the mainly veteran Edmonton Oilers all they could handle on Wednesday.

Matt Hendricks scored the winner on a late penalty shot and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a pair of assists as the Oilers remained perfect in pre-season play, defeating the Jets 3-2.

Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who are 3-0-0 in exhibition action.

“The Jets had a lot of guys who were trying to make their team, and sometimes those are the tougher games to play because they had so many guys with something to prove,” said Schultz. “We had a slow start, but we came on after that.”

Hendricks’s shootout winner was far from a beauty, as he lost the handle on it, but was able to recover and out wait goalie Eric Comrie to slide it in.

“I think there was a divot there when I tried to put it in, but I’m glad I got enough to get it over the goal line,” he laughed.

Ben Chiarot and Adam Lowry replied for the Jets (0-1-1), who dressed a lineup largely devoid of veteran players.

“For the most part, it was a pretty consistent game for us,” said Lowry, the only player dressed who figured into the top 18 in scoring for the team last season. “We did a good job battling back. They had some of their big horses in the lineup tonight, and other than our penalty kill, I thought we did a good job neutralizing them.”

Edmonton struck first on a two-man advantage as Nugent-Hopkins spotted Schultz pinching in and he blasted his second of the pre-season past Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson.

Oilers starter Cam Talbot turned aside 16 shots in the opening period.

The shots favoured the Jets 24-22 after a scoreless second period.

Eric Comrie replaced Hutchinson in the third.

Edmonton made it 2-0 early in the third period with another power-play goal as the rebound off a Benoit Pouliot tip was picked up by Eberle and sent into the net.

Winnipeg got back to within a goal five minutes into the third as a Chiarot point shot seemed to tip off an Oiler defender and past Talbot.

The Jets managed to tie the game 11 minutes into the third as Lowry sent a wrist shot over Talbot’s shoulder from the top of the circle.

With 2:12 remaining in the third, Hendricks was hauled down by Adam Pardy on a short-handed breakaway and was awarded the game-winning penalty shot.

The Oilers and Jets will face off again in Winnipeg on Friday.

Notes: Edmonton, fresh off a pair of split-squad victories over Calgary on Monday, iced a largely veteran lineup. Notable absences included Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid, Teddy Purcell, Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne. … The Jets lost 1-0 in overtime in their only pre-season game to Minnesota on Tuesday. Only five players suited up for the second night in a row – Alex Burmistrov, Thomas Raffl, Joel Armia, Brendan Kichton, and Andrew Copp. … In an effort to adjust fans to the new 3-on-3 overtime rules, the NHL included a bonus session of the format after the game. Neither team scored.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press